Thursday, 21 November 2013

Pharaoh by David Gibbins

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The man carrying the staff of a high priest and the ankh symbol of a pharaoh stood at the entrance to the temple, watching the shaft of light from the setting sun rise up the body of the statue that loomed out of the far wall.  Ahead in the gloom the others stood aside to let him pass forward, sprinkling incense and mouthing incantations as they did so.  They were all present, the priests of this cult and also the priests of the god Amun from Thebes: those who had grown fat on the wealth that was rightfully his, and had doubted his allegiance to the gods.  They had come here, a thousand miles to the south of the pyramids, to the edge of the known world, believing that he had chosen this place to prostrate himself before them, to recant his heresy and purify himself before the gods, to arise once again with the trappings of priesthood that had weighed down his father and generations of pharaohs before that.  He passed them now, men with shaven heads and pious expressions who wore the gold-hemmed robes and upturned sandals that showed wealth, and he felt nothing but contempt.  Soon they would know the truth.
Published by Headline on 26th September 2013
480 pages
1351 BC
Akhenaten the Sun-Pharaoh presides over Egypt…until the day he casts off his crown and mysteriously disappears into the desert, his legacy seemingly swallowed up by the sands beneath the Great Pyramids of Giza.
AD 1884
A British soldier serving in the Sudan stumbles upon a submerged temple containing drawings of a terrifying god fed by human sacrifice.  The soldier is on a mission to reach General Gordon before Khartoum falls.  But he hides a secret of his own.
Present Day
Jack Howard and his team are excavating an incredible underwater site, but dark forces watch to see what they will find.  Diving into the Nile, they enter a world three thousand years backing history, inhabited by a people who have sworn to guard the greatest secret of all time…
*****
David Gibbins has written seven bestselling novels, and Pharaoh is his eighth.  I love an adventure story, and anything about Egypt, so it seemed that this book would be a win-win choice.  Having not read any of his previous novels, I didn’t know that the main character, Jack Howard, is an archaeological diver, which was an interesting premise.  I don’t know anything about diving so I initially wondered if this book would suit me.  The detail that Gibbins goes into is not so technical to be boring, but explanatory enough that I was immediately interested and could also imagine what it would have been like under the Nile exploring for treasure.
Pharaoh is split into three distinct parts, ancient Egypt, wartime in 1884 and the present day. The section on ancient Egypt immediately captivated me and I avidly turned the pages immersing myself in the reign of Akhenaten.  Now, I’m not a great fan of wartime novels, but have to say that the parts where this was the primary focus were as captivating as the others and I soon found myself reading on to find out what the ending would be once the book concluded in the present day.  Gibbins is sure to have found himself with another bestseller amongst his fans, and I’ll definitely be reading more of his previous work after this.

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